12 Lessons I've Learned The Hard Way About Having Healthy Personal Relationships.

I struggle with my personal relationships. A big part of that is because of what I have going on in my head.

I think too much. I see what's not there. I feel the pain and frustration from four decades of my own mistakes dealing with other people.

And that builds up if I let it, chipping away at the foundation of my confidence.

Leading me to make even more mistakes in my personal relationships.

That creates a new cycle -- of guilt and frustration -- where I just stew in the disappointment I have for myself.

But over the years I have learned a few lessons. A few key reminders to help me build healthy relationships and avoid the traps created by my own fear and failure.

Here are a few of those lessons:

  1. Apologize as soon as you know that you have done something to hurt someone you care about -- even if you didn't mean to hurt them in the first place
  2. Trust people by default. The opposite might seem smarter but it generally leads to unhealthy mind games that are emotionally draining.
  3. Make time for things that aren't always productive -- like just being around each other. It might not lead to a financial windfall, but it will keep you inspired. And feeling loved.
  4. Sometimes you just have to shut up and listen. Even when you don't want to. Or have time to. Because one day soon you are going to want the exact same treatment.
  5. A relationship that takes years to build can be destroyed by a few poor words used in a heated argument. Take a moment to breathe. Then talk.
  6. If you want to feel loved you have to love others. And be loyal. Not just in bed, but in every other aspect of life when you are together.
  7. It's not just you who is going through something. It's everyone. And that "something" isn't always what you might imagine it to be. So show some empathy.
  8. You can't do it all by yourself. You need other people in your life. Which is why it matters that you deliberately carve off time to invest in other people.
  9. A simple look of support can make a huge difference in someone else's day. Use the power you have to inspire and motivate those you need know need the "nudge".
  10. Say those things that are on your mind that you have been afraid to share, like: "I'm afraid." or "I really want us to work out" or "I don't know what to do". You're human. Act like it.
  11. Be quick to forgive. Don't overthink it. You'll want the same fast forgiveness when you make a mistake yourself sometime soon. 
  12. Fighting your own personal demons with the help of a book or coach or therapist makes it so much easier to have relationships that last long enough for you to enjoy.

I'm sure if I had more time I could think of a dozen other lessons that have been impactful for me.

The truth is that I am still figuring this all out. And working on being the best version of myself -- inside and out of the important relationships that are in my life.

So what is holding you back from achieving happiness in your life? What lessons have you learned about how to have healthy relationships?

Dan Waldschmidt